When I was a teenager, I asked my mother if I'd ever find love. My friends were dating, but I'd never met a boy who could see me instead of the packaging I came in - my rheumatoid arthritis and my wheelchair blocked the way. It took some time, but as I, and the men I dated, grew older, it became easier to find someone who wasn't afraid of my RA or the wheelchair. But then, in 2004, my disease flared again, flared so intensely that I felt razed to the ground. That flare taught me just how hard RA can be on relationships, breaking bonds as it wrecks your body and a relationship of four years was destroyed in the wreckage.
After several years of slowly getting stronger, yet never getting back to where I was before the flare, I decided to try to accept that I wouldn't find love again. I thought myself to be damaged goods, too wrecked by disease, too marked by the destructive forces of RA to be desirable to anyone. Turns out I was wrong. Because in the early months of 2009, I met someone - or rather, Met Someone - and we fell in love, unexpectedly, surprisingly, delightfully. I have never been so happy to be wrong.
We live in a world that emphasizes physical beauty and perfection, where illness and disability are things to be pitied, thought to put an end to other parts of your life, especially love, sex, marriage, children. There are people who know this is not the case, people to whom a chronic illness like RA is just something that n